Latest NewsStaff at Bell Media's 580 CFRA sign union cards

Staff at Bell Media’s 580 CFRA sign union cards

Amidst the layoff of six per cent of Bell Media’s workforce, about two dozen 580 CFRA Ottawa staff have signed union cards with CWA Canada.

The union filed for certification Friday with the federal labour board, a little more than 48 hours after Bell announced the layoff of 1,300 workers and the abrupt shuttering of six of its AM radio stations.

The group, which includes a majority of non-unionized hosts, producers, writers and technicians at the heritage news/talk station – which celebrated its 75th anniversary last year – said in a mission statement that the company’s cost-cutting mandate “has caused a swift decline in staffing” and created “an ever-growing workload.”

“…when coupled with discouraging wage caps, an exhausting struggle to meet the standards that CFRA’s dedicated listenership has come to expect,” reads the statement.

Staff said they have propped up the station’s reputation, keeping ratings at a high level, while singular employees do the work of many, resulting in missed breaks and significant unpaid overtime.

“We have advocated for meaningful change with management countless times to no avail. It has become clear the only path forward is through collective bargaining,” reads their statement, with workers noting that pay raises have long failed to keep up with the cost of living and little communication from Bell Media on how the company plans to stabilize workers’ livelihoods.

Staff added that working conditions have never been worse for part-time employees who are “being left behind” due to inconsistent scheduling and unassigned shifts.

In a statement, CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon welcomed the new members, calling the Bell staffers “underpaid and overworked.”

“These are some of the hardest working journalists in the country and they deserve much better pay and working conditions,” said O’Hanlon. “We look forward to bargaining a collective agreement that respects the incredible work they do.”

CWA said once formally unionized, the workers will form a unit within the Ottawa Newspaper Guild (CWA Canada Local 30205), which already represents employees at Bell Media-owned CTV Ottawa.

“I commend the courage they showed to stand up for their rights and the conviction to make their working environment better and equitable. ONG looks forward to working with our newest members,” said Lois Kirkup, president of Local 30205.

Kirkup noted that as of publication, neither CFRA nor CTV Ottawa had been impacted by Wednesday’s layoff announcement.

The full impact of the staff reduction on Bell Media’s news operations is not yet clear, however staff in numerous local CTV bureaus have announced their departures from the network, with cuts at CTV National News including Executive Producer Rosa Hwang, L.A. Bureau Chief Tom Walters, Chief International Correspondent Paul Workman, Ottawa Bureau Chief Joyce Napier, CTV National News Senior Political Correspondent Glen McGregor, and UK-based correspondent Daniele Hamamdjian, among others.

Subscribe Now – Free!

Broadcast Dialogue has been required reading in the Canadian broadcast media for 30 years. When you subscribe, you join a community of connected professionals from media and broadcast related sectors from across the country.

The Weekly Briefing from Broadcast Dialogue is delivered exclusively to subscribers by email every Thursday. It’s your link to critical industry news, timely people moves, and excellent career advancement opportunities.

Let’s get started right now.

* indicates required


Connie Thiessen
Connie Thiessen
Connie has worked coast-to-coast as a reporter, editor, anchor and host at CKNW and News 1130 in Vancouver, News 95.7 and CBC in Halifax, and CFCW Edmonton, among other stations. With a passion for music, film and community service, she led News 95.7 to a 2013 Atlantic Journalism Award and regional RTDNA award for Best Radio Newscast. More recently, she was nominated for Music Journalist of the Year at Canadian Music Week 2019. To report a typo or error please email -

The Weekly Briefing - Subscribe Now – Free!

It’s your link to critical industry news, timely people moves, and excellent career advancement opportunities.

Events / Conferences